Japanese chip equipment and digital camera maker Nikon Corp. <7731.T> said on Thursday it has invested about 2.3 billion yen ($19 million) to start production of glass substrates for liquid crystal display photomasks.
Nikon has said it planned to start a new business making glass materials for the LCD and semiconductor markets, but this is the first time it has made details of the project public.
A Nikon spokesman said the investment went toward buying equipment and constructing a clean room at an existing factory in Kanagawa prefecture, near Tokyo. It will aim for 7 billion yen in sales from the business in the year to March 2010.
Japan’s Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. is the currently the top maker of photomask glass substrates, accounting for more than half of the 20 billion yen market.
Photomasks are used to transfer circuit patterns during the making of semiconductors and liquid crystal displays.
The outlook for LCD photomasks is strong given the fast-growing LCD TV market.
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